Could the Sixers be targeting OG Anunoby?

New York Knicks’ OG Anunoby, left, steals the ball from Philadelphia 76ers’ Tyrese Maxey during the first half of Game 3 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Thursday, April 25, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

In the midst of an offseason full of starhunting rumors, the Philadelphia 76ers are reportedly keeping tabs on a big-name free-agent wing other than Paul George. According to SNY’s Ian Begley, the Sixers “see Anunoby as an offseason target.” After the New York Knicks won the OG Anunoby sweepstakes in the middle of the season, the defensive-minded wing appeared in 23 games for the Knicks, averaging 14.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.7 steals per game.

Despite dealing with injuries off and on all season long, Anunoby still managed to appear in 9 of the Knicks’ 13 playoff games. He was nothing short of a game-changer against Philadelphia and had he not been injured, he could have changed the New York Knicks’ shortcomings against the Indiana Pacers.

Anunoby also has no shortage of NBA Playoff experience. With 36 playoff starts under his belt, most of which have come under current Sixers head coach Nick Nurse, Anunoby could prove extremely useful to a Sixers team that’s ready to contend. Anunoby averaged 15.1 points and 6.0 rebounds per game for the New York Knicks during the team’s playoff run. With a player option he will surely decline and the postseason now in the rearview for NY, Anunoby will become a highly sought-after free agent. One the Sixers could target, *if Anunoby’s mind has not already been made up.

How OG Anunoby would fit with the Sixers

New York Knicks’ OG Anunoby (8) goes up for a dunk past Philadelphia 76ers’ Kelly Oubre Jr. (9) during the first half of Game 3 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Thursday, April 25, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Anunoby would almost assuredly be one of the best wings of Joel Embiid’s career and could prove to be an excellent third option behind Embiid and rising star Tyrese Maxey. As a true 3&D mastermind, Anunoby has earned both an All-Defensive 2nd Team selection and a top-ten finish in Defensive Player of the Year, both coming during the 2022-2023 NBA season. He led the New York Knicks in deflections per game with 3.2. 

Anunoby is also an assassin from beyond the arc, draining 39.4% of his threes for the Knicks this season. He is especially effective from the corners and the top of the arc, where he has shot 44.0% and 48.3%, respectively. Anunoby is not just a shooter, however, as he has become a perfect MoreyBall player, focusing on both the three and finishing at the rim.

The former Indiana Hoosier is also an elite finisher around the rim, converting 62.3% of his shots, above the league average of 59.9%. Anunoby may have made his name on his defensive ability, but he is no slouch on the offensive end.

With someone like Joel Embiid manning the paint, joined by the former MVP’s improved passing ability, Anunoby would feast in the Sixers’ offense. Especially with teams double-teaming Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey commanding so much attention on the perimeter, Anunoby could find himself with more wide-open shots than he knows what to do with.

On catch-and-shoot shots this season, Anunoby made 40.2% of his attempts. This would have placed Anunoby second among Sixers wings, behind only Nico “Boom-Boom” Batum. Kelly Oubre, who quickly became a fan favorite in Philadelphia for his offensive prowess, shot only 31.2% on catch-and-shoot threes.

With tons of cap space, Philadelphia going to be looking to load up on playoff-proven guys for a true title run behind Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey. With Anunoby, he would come to the Sixers already familiar with Nurse’s scheme, and immediately become a difference maker. He would provide a lockdown defender who is capable of catching fire beyond the arc, no matter the game. At only 26 years old, he would remain in his prime for the entirety of the contract and could remain with the Sixers long after his first contract.


Filmmaker Spike Lee, left, pats New York Knicks forward OG Anunoby (8) on the back after Anunoby scored a 3-point basket against the Philadelphia 76ers during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 12, 2024, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Anunoby has the chance, for the first time in his career, to command one of the biggest contracts this free agency period. A perfect wing for today’s NBA, Anunoby is practically guaranteed to decline his less than 20 million dollar contract for a big payday.

With teams like the Sixers, who are flush with cash and ready to contend, he would be foolish not to, even if he does end up returning to the New York Knicks. Anunoby is a former champion with nearly 40 games of playoff experience who has shown the ability to be highly effective in the playoffs.

Boasting nearly 60 million dollars in cap space, the 76ers seem prepared to enter into a bidding war for OG Anunoby. With a high bid and his former coach with the team, the Sixers will be an extremely attractive location for the wing should he look for greener grass elsewhere. Yet, unlike with the New York Knicks, Onunoby isn’t the only option for the Sixers.

As constant rumors of stars like Paul George and LeBron James being targets for the Sixers, in addition to other role players like Malik Monk and Tyus Jones potentially being in the mix, Anunoby is not the end-all-be-all for Philadelphia this offseason.

The Sixers can aim to force the Knicks to increase their bid on Anunoby, who could command north of $35 million, perhaps even $40 million in average annual value on his next deal. For the Sixers, they definitely wouldn’t be upset about tying up their books for a player of Anunoby’s caliber, but for the Knicks, should Anunoby walk, would have dumped assets to the Raptors for nothing.

*Anunoby is represented by CAA, whose basketball division was formerly led by Knicks’ president Leon Rose, whose son, Sam Rose, is still with CAA and, in part, directly represents Anunoby.